Restaurants will be inspected for Covid-19 compliance

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THE Bureau of Environmental Health of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation issued guidance for restaurants that are reopening for dine-in services in light of recent amendments made to the governor’s Covid-19 directives.

BEH, which regulates food handlers, is permitted to perform on-site restaurant visits to issue certificates of compliance for dine-in services.

While bars remain closed, restaurants are now allowed to serve dine-in customers at 25% of originally permitted occupancy limit in accordance with supplemental regulatory guidance from CHCC.

To control the volume of patrons, reservations must be made; records of one point of contact for each party must be maintained for contact tracing purposes; parties dining in together must be limited to no more than four people; and all parties must remain at least six feet apart.

Establishments are encouraged to use outdoor seating whenever possible.

 

 

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres speaks during the presentation of the CNMI Economic Recovery Plan last month. Photo by K-Andrea Evarose S. Limol

Reopened establishments are likewise mandated to enforce handwashing, require employees to use face coverings when near other employees and customers, discontinue preset tables, and cease self-service food or drinks (buffet style dining or beverage refill stations).

In addition, restaurants are mandated to ensure adequate supplies to support healthy hand hygiene practices for both employees and customers, and provide physical guides (tape on floors or sidewalks to ensure that customers remain at least six feet apart in queues, or asking customers to wait in their cars or away from the establishment while waiting to pick up food).

Moreover, posted signs are mandated in order to inform employees and customers how to stop the spread of Covid-19, how to properly wash hands, how to properly wear a face covering, and provide notice that no one with symptoms will be permitted inside. (Sample signage is available for download at https://www.chcc.gov.mp/coronavirusinformation.php.)

As with all businesses, restaurants are required to post “one-way” flow signs each for entrance and for exit to maintain crowd control, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and wash, rinse, and sanitize all surfaces that come in contact with food after each use.

Any employees exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 must be sent home.

Furthermore, restaurants must ensure that all staff complete online ServSafe training specific to Covid-19 transmission reduction within one week of offering services.

Restaurant owners can request an inspection for compliance certification online at the CHCC Covid-19 page at chcc.gov.mp or call BEH at 664-4870/2/3 between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.

Customers should look for posted certification of compliance with level “Yellow” requirements. Valid certificates of compliance are signed by BEH inspectors and include the for reference the sanitation permit number of the restaurant.

If you believe a restaurant is operating out of compliance with the rules, contact 664-4677 to alert regulators. BEH may order an establishment to close if it is found to be non-compliant.

A listing of restaurants open for dine-in service will be updated daily on the CHCC Covid-19 page of its website chcc.gov.mp

The governor’s Covid-19 task force and CHCC continue to encourage the Commonwealth to practice social distancing, continue good hygiene practices, and know the signs and symptoms of Covid-19.

For general information about the CNMI Covid-19 response, contact the governor’s Covid-19 Task Force Hotline at 287-0046/0489/1089 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays or 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.

 

 

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